Among My People

Well, we’ve moved. Eleven nights ago, David and I were putting our bed together for our first night in our condo in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Then the next day we began the process of settling in, one room at a time.

I have to correct something I posted earlier. I was feeling so confident that we had purged enough of our belongings that we could get everything into a 20-foot truck bed, including David’s machines and tools. I grossly underestimated how many belongings we still have. David ended up taking out a 10-foot by 10-foot storage unit for his machines, tools, and other belongings we couldn’t fit onto our truck. We packed and re-packed the back end of our moving truck. On the morning of the closing, we managed to fit our mattress into the very back of the truck, strapped it in, and we had not even an inch to spare to slide the door closed. When the packing just went on and on and on, I realized I had underestimated by a long shot. So I am truly humbled.

Our moving took two long days. Friday morning we met in our lawyer’s office to sign the closing documents, and a few hours later we heard from his office that the house was officially no longer ours. In Western Massachusetts, the sellers, buyers, their attorneys, and the real estate agents no longer get together for the closing… rather the sellers sign with their lawyers, the buyers with their own lawyers, then the lawyers get together and exchange documents. The buyers’ attorney then records the deed, and that is when the transfer of property officially happens. It was a funny feeling, walking through the house, taking photos and saying farewell to each room, knowing we no longer owned this house that we were so intimately familiar with. It was especially strange because we hadn’t visited the condo we were moving into.

Here are a few of the photos of the emptied out house we called home for almost 9 years.

In the top room of the house

What was the second-story guest bedroom

Master bedroom

Oh that comfortable shower! Many a morning I would get out, wrap myself in a big warm towel and repeat my mantra: Life is sweet, Life is bliss… when you have a shower like this!

The chestnut woodwork in that house is truly beautiful. And the maple floors…

All those meals we ate in this dining room…

Oh, how I miss my kitchen… those lovely cabinets

I could not believe how different the basement looked after it was emptied!

Loaded and ready for the journey…

After the official business of closing on the house, David and I had lunch at Panera’s, and then we headed south on Interstate 91 towards our new home. I drove our van, and David drove the moving truck. We made it as far as Binghamton, New York that night and stayed at a hotel. We headed out early Saturday morning to drive the rest of the way. Our friends, Ann and Paul Yoder, who we’re renting from, were waiting for us at the condo. We stayed in touch with them about our timing because they had coordinated with three strapping young lads to help us unload the truck. We were so grateful to hire them, and were they ever good! David, Paul Yoder, and these young men had the truck unloaded in an hour and a half. Then everyone left around 4 PM, and David and I found ourselves in our new home, facing the daunting task of fitting our belongings into a house we’d never seen before that day. Below are a few photos of us settling in.

The front hall


Our breakfast nook

The living and dining room

Dining area

The guest bed and bath

Thankfully, there is a huge family room in the basement that serves as storage for our extra furniture and belongings, and a place for the tools David brought with him.

So this is a photo tour of the house we left and the home we are living in now. This is a temporary home while we find one we want to purchase in this area next spring. I miss the house we left in Massachusetts, but I am so glad we moved to Harrisonburg. On my eleventh day here, I feel like we made the right choice. There is a reason why Harrisonburg has been named “The Friendly City.” It helps that we have friends here to start with. David and I’ve already had two meals with Vi Dutcher, and I’ve been to the movies with her. I had lunch with Sadie Showalter yesterday. Two nights ago, we attended an event with new friends, Wayne and Kathie Kurtz, and then they came here for cookies and tea afterwards. Paul and Ann Yoder have been here for a meal once and dessert another night. We’ve attended a Lifelong Learning class with them in a course about climate change and renewable energy. We attended Park View Mennonite Church on Sunday morning. So our social calendars have been filled up, with a social event every day for the past week. If anything, I have to watch that I don’t overbook. But after feeling so alone in my beautiful home in Sunderland, Massachusetts for the past eight years, this is a wonderful feeling. I feel like I am among my people, surrounded by Anabaptists of all stripes… former Amish, Old Order Mennonites, Conservative Mennonites, and liberal Mennonites. Here I feel I can bring together my intellectual quest with my spiritual one. I cannot emphasize enough how important that is to me. I feel like I’ve landed in a city of kindred spirits.

Today I posted our guest bedroom on Airbnb. If you, or anyone you know, is traveling through the Shenandoah Valley and need a place to stay, I hope you take a look at our “Stay in Shenandoah” option.

I need to close for now, but I plan to post more often as we get settled in. I have lots to write about. I thought it was high time to post about our move. I’d love to hear about moves you’ve made. I find it both challenging and exciting. How about you?

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26 thoughts on “Among My People”

  1. Hi Saloma! Your new place looks so cozy and comfortable. Enjoy your new life, friends and community. The people who purchased your other home are also very lucky to have found such a beautifully restored,clean home that seems so welcoming just from photographs alone. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving in your new home! Best wishes…Christine

    1. Thank you, Christine, for your thoughts. We tried to leave the house in good shape in Mass. I created a little “hideout” in the basement under the stairs. I meant to take a photo of it. The people who bought the house have a son and daughter, in third and fourth grade. I left little things in the hideout, such as special rocks, a flashlight, seashells, a skeleton key that I didn’t know where it belonged in the house, and even a praying mantis chrysalis David found in the garden. I imagined myself at that age, and “playhouses” were so much fun. I don’t know how it was received, but my intentions were good, at least.

      I certainly am enjoying my new home, friends, and community.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you as well, Christine.

      1. Hi Saloma! Those little treasures you left are wonderful for the new children that are now calling your former house home. I can imagine them when they’re older and grown up reminiscing “remember those things we found in the basement when we were kids?” That was such a nice gesture on your part. When I was about 8 years old I bought myself a “diamond” ring from our local variety store. Sadly I dropped in down in between a crevice that a heating pipe came through in the basement. I often wondered if the new owners of my old house ever came across it when they renovated the house years and years later. The memories inside of a house are countless. Looking forward to your future posts as always! Christine

  2. Saloma, it sounds like you are in the right place. I’ve sensed from reading your posts a need for you to be around kindred spirits with Amish type culture, and wow…you have found a treasure here!

  3. Salona, so pleased you have found a place where you feel you belong. I moved to Springfield MA when I was in my late teens to live with my cousin and through her I met my husband. We lived in Springfield until we moved to Vermont about 7 years after getting married. I resisted that move because I loved MA but when I got back to where I was born and raised I felt I was where I belonged and did not realize how much I missed it. We moved back to VT so my husband who was laid off in MA could find a job. We moved to PA 31 years later so my husband who was laid off in VT could take a job here – that was Oct. 2007. We sold our house to someone who was walking by our house and wanted to buy it even though it was not for sale. It was nice to sell it without realtors – we both had lawyers. Thankfully our daughter lives in this area and was able to let us live there until we found a house here in May 2008, so we have lived in our house 9 years. We used U-Pack Moving (ABF Freight) and like you I underestimated the amount of our belongings that would fit from our 100 yr. old Victorian. Not everything fit into that short trailer (about half a full size trailer).

    In so many ways I feel like you are a kindred spirit with me. I am missing Vermont a lot lately and every fall when we go back it is harder and harder to come back here (We go to the Georgia, Fairfax area). But I am also attracted to Virginia and for many years I have been saying I want to to move there and I am not sure what the attraction is since I have only been there once and that was long after I was telling people someday I want to move to VA.

    I am so very happy for you. May God bless you,
    Oh just a silly question – is your van an Odyssey? We have a 2008 silver/gray Odyssey. Also looking forward to your new book.

    1. Michele, I keep forgetting the Vermont connections we have. Do you know that David and I lived in Fairfax, Vermont for 7 years? So I know Georgia/Fairfax well.

      David and I thought about using a company like U-Pack, but in the end we decided to move ourselves. I don’t think I would do that again… we’re getting to old for that, especially long distance. Moving across town with help is a whole different story.

      I’m not surprised your husband had to leave Vermont to get a job. So did I nine years ago. Vermont is a hard place to live unless you’re independently wealthy. Which is why we decided to move to Virginia instead. I still miss my friends in Vermont, and I miss the feeling of Vermont. But I don’t miss the high cost of living with little means to make one.

      You may not believe this, but we own an Odyssey silver/gray van. Just yesterday we went over the 200K mile mark.

      Yes, I’d say we are kindred spirits. I hope someday you will move to Virginia… to this area. We could get together over tea….

      Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and I look forward to staying in touch.

      1. Saloma, I did know you lived in Fairfax but I didn’t know how long you lived there but I did think it was longer. That is why I always think of you when we go up there. You lived in Vermont longer than 7 years so where did you live before that? Our son lives in Laura’s Woods development really close to the Milton line. In fact their mailing address is Milton. After he graduated from UVM he bought a house very close to UVM campus. He was involved with campus ministry and he wanted a place to rent rooms to Christian students. You moved for a job?

        Wit U-Pack we had to pack up everything ourselves including the trailer. The only thing we did not have to do is drive it here. We compared the cost of U-Haul (including gas etc.) and U-Pack and decided it was worth the little extra not to have to find someone to drive a truck here. It also was good that we could leave all of our belongings in the trailer until we found a house. We find some things are more expensive here in PA – property taxes, water, sewer and electric.

        We bought our Odyssey used about 2 1/2 years ago and it had 165,000 miles on it when we bought it. It is a 2008 but it was not purchased until December 2008 and we are the second owners – it had only been driven for 6 1/2 years.

        I am still dreaming of moving to Virginia. I have no idea why I am so attracted to moving there – maybe it is the history. I have been there once and I loved it. Since the years are marching on it may be only a dream. But having tea with you would be so lovely. I sure would enjoy a visit with you.

        Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family as well. We will stay in touch.
        God’s Blessings to you.

  4. Saloma, thanks for your very quick reply to my airbnb enquiry! We will really enjoy visiting you and Harrisonburg sometime in the future. The quilt museum is a gem and they have good changing exhibitions. We usually eat lunch at the little restaurant across the road. It’s part of the visitor center. Good food and served on nice plates! Love following all your blog news. Continue to settle in well and Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. Elizabeth, as I mentioned in my earlier message, I will be visiting the quilt museum in the near future. David and I noticed it several days ago. We just ate at the Heritage Bakery today. Is that the restaurant you’re talking about?

      David and I look forward to hosting you and your husband sometime soon.

      Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Warmest wishes to the both of you in your new home and community.

    Writers and artists are lucky. Yes, it’s nice to have a comfortable, beautiful home. But it’s not what makes us happiest.

    I’m happiest in my 10 x 10 modest office on my keyboard. To me, there’s nothing more seductive than a fresh, blank page. Our imaginations can take us to any time and any place. Right now, I’m sitting in your Massachusetts dining room a year ago with you, Saloma, indulging in one of your homemade sticky buns with coffee. We’re crying. We’re laughing. I’m about to sneak seconds…

  6. Jean, you had me there. I was thinking, why don’t I remember this person in my Massachusetts dining room? Then I realized you’re in the Midwest, and this is something you dreamed of. You wrote it so well, I was thinking it had really happened.

    I know what you mean… writing as a means of creative expression is a wonderful thing. As I type my thoughts out on my keyboard, I realize it’s been too long since I did any. The move had to come first, but I’m ready to get back to writing. Thanks for reminding me of that!

  7. Saloma, I see that Harrisonburg is an official Appalachian Trail Community. I live in Maine, close to the northern terminus of the A.T., and I spent the summer working for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Monson, Maine, another official A.T. Community. So I could walk down to your new home…but it would take a while! I appreciated your comment about the importance of bringing together your intellectual quest with your spiritual one. That’s been a guiding force in my life as well. I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving in your new home!

    1. Wendy, that would be something if you were to walk from your house to mine. I would be so in awe of that because that is not something I would attempt to do.

      I didn’t think I was the only one with a quest to integrate my intellectual and spiritual life. So glad that resonated with you.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

  8. Hi Saloma! We never did get to have lunch together :-( However, we do pass through Harrisonburg on occasion as we travel south to visit family (preferring Rt 81 over Rt 95.) We’ve been known to drive out of the way to avoid DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia and NYC! You’re new home looks lovely and inviting. Happy Thanksgiving to you and David.

  9. So happy for you that you found yourself “home” again with your new friends. I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, so I am very familiar with the area. It is a beautiful valley. Your new home looks cozy. The braided rug in the dining room looks so at home there. Many blessings as you keep adjusting & making new friends!

  10. Hello Saloma,

    I know it is a very bittersweet thing to leave your home of so long behind. This reminded me of when my husband and I left our home in Seattle and said goodbye to the rooms as well. But, it sounds as though many new adventures are ahead for you! I am so glad to hear that you have such a genuine community that surrounds you now! Your decorating skills are beyond beautiful as well…for having just moved in, it looks very cozy and a place that feels homey :)



    1. Thank you, Shana, for your thoughts. I can only imagine how hard it would have been to leave Seattle. The climate is so temperate, and living that near the ocean must have been amazing.

      It is a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by a genuine community. I hope to contribute to that as we get more settled.

      Thank you for your compliments. We’re feeling more at home every day.

  11. Reading your post brought back memories of 30 years ago when we moved from SE Wisconsin to SW Missouri. We moved in October and my husband had a business in Illinois that would be sold the end of December. So for those 2 1/2 months he traveled from Illinois to Missouri every weekend to see us until the business was sold. That first weekend alone with the kids, I cried and wondered if we had done the right thing. We did! It’s just the change and distance got to me with him only coming down on weekends. He spent those months living with his brother in Chicago. Looking through your pictures, I also felt a sadness. I’ve read your blog for quite a few years and you would invite us into your home to view rugs you braided, tours of your remodeling projects, etc.

    I do look forward to (hopefully maybe) going on house hunting adventures with you via your posts!

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas. Relax as much as you can because I’m sure you’re going to have a busy 2018!!

    1. Oh, Chris, I can only imagine how you felt, alone with your children in the beginning of your move. I’ve had moments when I wondered if we’re doing “the right thing.” But something must be right about it, or we wouldn’t have done it. I honestly don’t know how I would have made this move without David by my side. I think as we get older, it is harder to be agile when making major transitions.

      I wish you the same for a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas.

  12. As I walked thru the pictures of your house in Massachusetts I felt so sad. They looked so empty and lost. How hard it must have been to leave. It certainly was move in ready and oh so beautiful. I would like to think that the new family will fill its rooms with laughter and love and create happy memories to sustain it.
    I like your new place and you sure got it put together fast, your amazing!!! I’m so glad you feel this is were you are suppose to be and are surrounded by people you feel a connection to.
    I found out something recently about my Nazarene roots. My grandmother and her sisters and brothers (along with my great grandparents who came over from Germany) were part of a very strict sec of the faith. The women could not cut their hair and had to wear it in a bun. No makeup or jewelry was aloud. Radio and television (when it came into being) was discouraged. Farming was considered the ideal way of life. I told my husband maybe that’s why I often feel more comfortable around the Amish and Mennonite. Perhaps in a way they are my kindred spirits also. Smile.
    Looking forward to future posts on your new home and new life!!!!!

    1. Pamela, that is amazing for you to find out about your roots, and isn’t it amazing that you were drawn to the Amish and Mennonites even before you knew that… or at least before you knew it consciously.

      I, too, hope the family living in our old house will fill it with love and laughter. It’s hard to judge what they are like from having dealt with them with the real estate sale. They were tough negotiators, I must say. But they could probably say that about us. We held firm on several issues. It stands to reason that someone might take certain things for granted that we wouldn’t, only because we knew every square inch of that house intimately from all the work we put into it.

      David said something wise after our move when he said, “There is something wrong with becoming your house.” We did strongly identify with that house, which makes it harder to let go of.

      Thanks for your comments, Pamela. I always enjoy them.

  13. I keep thinking about what David said. I am afraid I have done just that. My husband Paul does not have the connection to this house that I have nor the years. He would move in a heart beat. Tired of all the stairs outside as well as inside. All the flower gardens, bushes, trees and hedges to care for as well as all the snow removal!! Me, my roots are deep within the very walls of this house. I was a young newly married girl of 25 when I moved in here with my first husband. I watched my boys grow up here and so after 32 years it is not so easy for me to think of moving away. I feel safe and secure here, all my memories are here. I also know every inch of this house, it has become apart of who I am. Is that a good thing or a bad?
    I am always reading in the Budget of this family leaving this house and another moving in or moving to another state. They have their auction and are on their way. Perhaps it is a healthier way of looking at a house. After all no matter how much I love my home I cant, as they say, take it with me!! Would the Amish see it as “worldly” to become so attached to a house? Instead of seeing all my memories being within these walls, maybe I need to see that I carry them within my heart and can take them with me no matter where I live. I think David is right, its wrong to become your house. Seeing it as a separate entity is certainly more freeing. Will there be a “For Sale” sign in my yard tomorrow? Hmmmm, probably not, baby steps…
    This is why I love your blog so much, always gets me thinking!!!!

  14. Saloma, your braided rugs still look so vivid and bright! I remember talking with you at one of your book signings near your home in Sunderland about rug braiding. My mom braided rugs when I was a child; my dad built her and I a wooden rug braiding stand. Do you still braid? I love to even do small coasters (if I still remember how to!) My husband is close to retiring (hopefully next month) and we plan to take a trip down to Virginia soon after. I will mention your lodging option to him and hopefully there will be availability to stay there. Good Luck to you and David on your new adventure!
    Kathy from Monson, MA

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